Best of Honolulu 2011: Entertainment

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Podium Raceway won editor's pick for best way to settle the score.

Photo: David Croxford


Editor's Picks

Zippy's Alternative

It’s been open just three months, but Downbeat Diner and Lounge has already become the most welcoming spot on Hotel Street, particularly in the wee hours of the morning. The brainchild of HPU communications professor Serena Hashimoto and local musician Josh Hancock, Downbeat offers up traditional American diner food with a local twist. In a thoughtful touch, every item—from the hamburger to the loco moco—can be ordered in either vegetarian or vegan versions. Hancock says,“We didn’t even have to promote it; people just came pouring through the door. There was such a limited choice of food options here in Chinatown at night before we opened. You can only eat so much pizza.” Open 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Thursday, and until 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. 42 N. Hotel St., 533-2328,


Some people watch birds or collect stamps. Those who frequent Home Brew in Paradise make their own beer or wine. “People get bitten by the beer bug and go on the quest to make the perfect beer,” says owner and 13-year home brewer Mike Smith. The Nimitz shop specializes in starter kits to help you make your own five-gallon batch of beer or 30 bottles of red or white wine, as well as equipment for advanced brewers. Most local brewers make ales, but Smith has dozens of beer recipes. “It’s your own creation,” he says. “Nothing is better than homemade.” 2646B Kilihau St., 834-2739,

Monthly Event

In the past year, Art and Flea has become our favorite regular shindig. With a flea market featuring local artists, fashion designers and vintage goods from 5 to 10 p.m., and live entertainment from 10 to 11 p.m., the event splits the difference between a friendly daytime atmosphere and nightlife socializing. The past few times we’ve attended, we’ve run into friends we haven’t seen in ages, and left with a couple of vintage finds we didn’t intend to buy. “It’s developed its own little following,” says Nicole Franco, who co-founded Art and Flea with friend Aly Ishikuni. “We try to keep things fresh every month, with different vendors and musicians. Everyone’s stuff has to be handmade, designed by them, or vintage and collectable. It has to be special.” Art and Flea happens every fourth Thursday at Fresh Café. This month’s event is on March 24. 831 Queen St., 688-8055,

Hookah Bar

Smoking cigarettes indoors might be illegal these days, but you can still get your nicotine on at the Burning Tree in Kaimuki. Owner and UH-Mānoa student Bryce Bergheim and his staff set up three-foot-tall hookahs from which customers can smoke more than 50 flavors of shisha (tobacco), such as mango, rose or grape. A rotation of musicians performs in the upstairs loft every night, and local art of various shapes and media cover the walls. The place does have a bit of a headshop vibe, but on the plus side, there’s no dress code, cover or corking fee for bringing your own bottle of wine as well as food. Open from noon to midnight Monday through Saturday and noon to 10 p.m. on Sunday. 3613 Waialae Ave., 626-5694,

Way to Settle the Score

If you and your significant other need to settle the who’s-the-better-driver debate once and for all, head out to Podium Raceway in Kapolei. The new, 44,000-square-foot facility has an eight-turn, quarter-mile racetrack on which you’ll race 48-volt, Italian-made electric go-carts that top out at 45 miles per hour. If Junior wants to get in on the action, Podium offers 24-volt carts that hit 25 miles per hour. Each race is 14 laps, up to 10 cars are allowed and the winner is determined by best lap times. “It’s been neat to see in our 10-car races, you’ll have nine guys and one girl and the girl out-drives everyone,” says employee Jay Consolloy. There’s also an arcade with air hockey and Hoop Fever to keep kids and their parents occupied, which is a good thing, considering the occasional three-hour wait times (go early). 91-1085 Lexington St., Bldg. 1844, Kapolei, 682-7223,

Ghost Busters

Every night, Tutu wakes you up with her snoring. But Tutu’s been dead for 20 years! Who you gonna call? Our favorite ghost hunters, Hawaiian Island Paranormal Research Society, that’s who. Preston Galera and Blaise Atabay spend hours researching and interviewing potential cases for the nonprofit organization, taking on only the ones they deem legit. “Most of what we do is education, so people can stop being afraid,” says Galera. Contact the team (866) 783-7533.

Team-Building Exercise

Ladies night? Check. League practice? Check. Full dinner menu? Check. Drink specials? Check. At Aiea Bowl there’s something for everyone; it’s a great place to get the girls, family or co-workers together. “Mondays and Thursdays are our most popular nights,” says operations manager Cy Shimabukuro. College students (with IDs) bowl for free on Mondays; ladies bowl for free Thursdays. Both nights have live DJs and drink specials. Families take advantage of the cosmic bowling and, on Tuesdays, tuck into a five-course dinner from The Alley restaurant, including dishes such as braised oxtail, tempura chicken and pear tart. 99-115 Aiea Heights Drive, 488-6854,

Quilting Gang

Hawaii quilts are famous. Hawaii quilters? Famously dedicated. If you count yourself among them, or would like to, join the Hawaii Quilt Guild, a group of needlework fanatics that meets monthly. The $25 annual fee is a great deal, entitling members to meetings, speakers, quilting bees, eligibility for the annual quilt show and, most important, the camaraderie of other stitching addicts. The guild is growing so fast it’s just moved to a new location at the Social Hall of the Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin to accommodate its 100-plus members. For information, visit

Rainy Day for Keiki

Hawaii residents are not used to cabin fever. If you’re faced with stir-crazy keiki on a rainy day, try heading to the Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center. There are activities galore for kids of all ages—from kimono dress-up to a climbing area that looks like a giant stomach—it’s the best indoor place to let them get out their energy (and save your sanity). 111 Ohe St., 524-5437,